Work Achievement Motivation and Method of Answering

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between one’s work achievement motivation and the method of answering (either honestly or as an ideal job candidate). The results indicate that answering as an ideal job candidate shows a higher level of self-reported work achievement motivation than answering honestly. The findings suggest that people associate an ideal job candidate with a high degree of work achievement motivation, while in truth their actual motivation may be lower. The group answering questions honestly was also shown to have a higher standard deviation at 0. 52, while the group answering as an ideal job candidate had a standard deviation of 0.44. This suggests that the ideal job candidate group had a somewhat similar idea of what the responses of an ideal job candidate would be, whereas the honest group was more varied in their self-reported motivation levels.

The results of this study can help develop a deeper understanding of work achievement motivation and how it is affected by whether people believe themselves to be answering ‘correctly’ (as if they were an ideal job candidate). This is important, as it may affect the self-esteem of an individual that finds themselves feeling less motivated than the ‘ideal’ candidate. Work motivation is one of the factors that prospective employers evaluate during interviews with potential hires, as it affects such things as intensity of work, effort, and persistence in tasks (Kanfer, et al., 2017). Due to this, individual applying for jobs may feel more inclined to answer interview questions based on their perception of the ‘ideal candidate’ as opposed to their honest opinion.

Furthermore, their answers may complicate construction of proper motivational methods for them. For example, prior research shows that one of the most effective methods for work motivation is intrinsic motivation model. This model suggests that people are motivated to complete and succeed at tasks they find enjoyable or interesting. It is believed this method of motivation produces better results and is more fulfilling than the need fulfillment model, which motivates one to satisfy their basic needs for autonomy, food, shelter, among others (Kanfer, et al., 2017). Therefore, to better motivate an individual, it is imperative to know what their interests are. However, this perception of one’s interests can be altered if the employee answers in what they believe is the ‘correct’ way, as opposed to giving an honest answer. Finally, the possible tendency to answer in a way that is perceived as ‘correct’ may work to mask motivational issues, which would delay intervention on the part of the employer.

Despite the significance of the results, the study has a number of limitations that must be acknowledged. One of the major limitations was the small number of participants. While a significant correlation has been established within this group, it is difficult to say how these findings will hold up on a larger scale. Furthermore, the study only took into account self-reported motivation of both subject groups. While it is a valid method for gathering data, it could be affected by biases. For example, if any of the subjects were familiar with the self-reporting techniques used by the study and changed their answers accordingly. It would be prudent in the future to supplement the self-evaluation with indirect measurements. Research has shown that such methods appear more specific and realistic, which makes the individual responses more akin to those seen in reality (Brunstein & Heckhausen, 2018). Using both self-reported and objective observational techniques would decrease bias and improve result accuracy.

Another limitation of the study is that it does not take into account other factors that affect work achievement motivation. An individual’s personal life circumstance may heavily affect their work performance. Therefore, the subjects in the honest answer instruction group could have had their answers affected by stress or other unforeseen life circumstances. Unfortunately, it is difficult to control such factors. However, it may be within the scope of future studies to take them into account and possibly remove from analysis results of those participants that report a significant life event within several days of the study.

Further study should be done to evaluate other factors surrounding the relationship between work achievement motivation and whether the participant was giving honest answers. Firstly, it is recommended that this study be repeated using a larger group of subjects to ascertain that the correlation established is not unique to the subjects of this study. For best results, this expansion should include individuals of various ages, genders, and socio-economic backgrounds, to establish or refute a trend in a global population as opposed to a single community.

Furthermore, once a larger-scale study has shown results, further research needs to be done to compare various groups. For example, it would be interesting to compare how the self-reported motivation results of different genders would compare. Previous studies indicate that males commonly have a higher achievement motivation than females (Spence & Helmreich, 2021). Other recommended comparative studies include comparisons between different age categories, professions, and ethnic groups. With a deeper understanding of how individual groups’ work motivation is affected by various factors, it may be possible to develop strategies for personal motivation tailored to a worker or student’s specific parameters. This could drastically improve not only the worker’s output, but general work and life satisfaction.


Brunstein, J. C., & Heckhausen, H. (2018). Achievement motivation. Motivation and Action, 221–304. Web.

Kanfer, R., Frese, M., & Johnson, R. E. (2017). Motivation related to work: A century of progress. Journal of Applied Psychology, 102(3), 338–355. Web.

Spence, J. T., & Helmreich, R. L. (2021). Achievement motivation: Background literature. In Masculinity and Femininity, 73-84. University of Texas Press.

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